The Denver Broncos and Sean Payton should prioritize retaining Ejiro Evero as the team’s defensive coordinator next season. After establishing success last year in his first season as a coordinator, Evero gives the Broncos defense the best chance to succeed.

Denver Broncos should prioritize Ejiro Evero as their defensive coordinator

Last season the Denver Broncos took the path of hiring Ejiro Evero as their defensive coordinator, his first season ever calling plays and running a defense. Prior to last season, the biggest question after Evero’s hire was whether or not he could take former head coach Vic Fangio’s defense and preserve its productivity.

Sure enough, Evero took Fangio’s defensive scheme and revamped it into a more aggressive model. Where Fangio would send three or four in pass-rushing situations, Evero sent four, sometimes five or six rushers if it meant giving Denver’s defense a chance to get off the field. In 2021, Denver’s defense forced a total of 19 turnovers — in 2022 they forced 23. After intercepting 13 passes in 2021, the Broncos snagged 15 this season.

Under Evero, the Broncos maintained their status as the NFL’s best red-zone defense, allowing only 51.1% of opposing teams’ attempts to convert for a score. Denver’s third-down defense (34.1%) ranked second in the league this year. The Broncos’ defense also ranked in the top 10 in net yards per game allowed (7th – 320), yards per play (6th – 5.0), and rushing yards allowed per game (10th – 109.8).

Fangio’s name resurfaced as a potential defensive coordinator for Payton — a year after the team fired him as their head coach. On Thursday morning it was announced that Fangio would be accepting a job as the Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator — joining their staff after the Super Bowl.

With the hire of Sean Payton, he and the Broncos should do whatever is necessary to retain Evero if he doesn’t get offered the head coaching job for the Indianapolis Colts or Arizona Cardinals. Various Broncos players have told Mile High Sports how much they value Evero as their coach, including starting inside linebacker Josey Jewell.

“He’s a great leader,” Jewell told Mile High Sports in December. “You’ve seen the defense, it’s a reflection of him. Communication is unbelievable through him. There’s no disguise, there’s no hidden thing, he’s going to let you know how he feels. He’s going to let you know how to play certain things. There are no questions left at the end of the day which is the biggest thing. Whether it be going out there on defense for a game or during practice, we know exactly what we’re doing. I just say that transparency of him being fully there and never holding anything back is very important. And as you saw, he brings us all together.”

If Evero doesn’t receive a head coaching offer, Payton should do everything in his power to help preserve what the Broncos’ defensive coordinator put together last season. Outside of head coaching interviews, at one point this off-season, the Atlanta Falcons had requested permission to interview Evero for their defensive coordinator job, but Denver blocked it.

According to Mike Silver, Payton and Evero will meet today to discuss him remaining on staff in 2023. While the Broncos hiring of Payton isn’t official yet in the eyes of the league, he’s already begun some procedural work behind the scenes as the deal finalizes and goes through the formalities.